Baby Carriers for Big Moms

by Kmom

Copyright 1996-2006 Kmom@Vireday.Com. All rights reserved.


This FAQ last updated: August 2006

CONTENTS

 

Information About Slings and Other Baby Carriers

Babies love to be carried.  In fact, most do not like to be put down!  After being carried in the womb for 9+ months, who can blame them for wanting to remain close?  Although infant car seat carriers, strollers, and baby swings can be handy at times, try not to leave your baby in them for too long.  Babies want and NEED to be held as much as possible, and they NEED the motion, stimulation, warmth, closeness, and the social interaction of being held and carried.   This is a very important yet often overlooked part of their brain development, and it is a vital part of parenting.  

Baby carriers are not just for carrying babies in the mall or on a walk. They are also for carrying the baby close to you around the house.  Most new moms are shocked at how much a newborn baby wants to be held, and how insistent they are at finding a way to be held.   Many new moms express their frustration at having to constantly hold the baby while trying to get some work done around the house; baby carriers can be a great way to "kill two birds with one stone."  They let you hold the baby continuously while getting some work done.  This is much easier than putting the baby down and letting him cry, or trying to rush through your work while baby is napping.  Baby is happier, and so are you.

Cultures all over the world have recognized the need for holding and carrying babies, and have invented many ingenious ways to deal with the need to hold babies yet still be able to do other activities.  Parents have many choices for carrying their babies; each parent has to experiment and find out what works best for them. Baby carrier preferences are very much a "Your Mileage May Vary" issue.  

Plus-sized parents often wonder what their choices are for carrying their babies.  Often, the over-the-counter baby carriers available at most stores are not size-friendly.  They either do not fit well or are uncomfortable to wear.  But many plus-sized parents are unaware that there ARE choices available for big parents, and that many "overweight" moms (and dads!) use these very comfortably.  

The following FAQ contains information about the various types of baby carriers available (front pack carriers, slings, backpacks, hip carriers, etc.), and the size-friendliness of each type of carrier.  Finally, Kmom's opinions on these various types of carriers is presented, and contact information for companies that carry size-friendly baby carriers is listed.  However, remember that your opinions and needs may differ; feel free to disagree with these opinions. 

If you have a favorite baby carrier that is not listed here, if you would like to add feedback on various types of carriers, if you have a photo of yourself slinging your baby you would like to share, or if you would have contact information for another company that carries plus-sized baby carriers, please email kmom@vireday.com with your input.   

 

Types of Carriers: An Overview

There are many types of baby carriers available and it can get very confusing!  For a complete discussion of types of carriers and how to use them, see www.thebabywearer.com.  For a FAQ with a summary of baby carrier types, see http://www.thebabywearer.com/lists/WhatTo.htm

Slings 

Slings are made of a long piece of fabric used to secure the baby to the parent.  They are used in many societies.  This is probably the most versatile baby carrier, as it can be used for a number of purposes, in a number of different ways, and remains useful as baby grows bigger.  It is also relatively cheap and economical.   Some people mistakenly assume that it's not a very secure way to carry baby, but used correctly it's quite safe and secure.  However, because Americans are not used to seeing slings, they can be puzzling to figure out at first.  Illustrations help. (See www.babyholder.com, www.mothersnature.com/babywear/howto.html, www.willowbean.com, or www.kangarookorner.com.) 

There are a dizzying array of sling 'types', including the padded/constructed sling, the unconstructed sling, the tube sling or "pouch," the fabric sling, the wraparound sling, and several hybrids that mix various elements of each of these types (see below). Common sling brands include the Maya Wrap, the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder, the New Native Baby Carrier, etc.  Slings also have the distinct advantage of being more size-friendly than many other carriers. 

Front-Pack Carriers  

Front-Pack Carriers are what most Americans probably think of when they picture carrying a baby.  Straps usually go over the shoulders and around the back, and the baby is inserted upright into a kind of pouch in the front, with legs sticking out of little slots.  Baby can be worn facing forward or facing backward, and the carriers tend to be very easy to figure out how to use.  These carriers are also useful, but they tend to be harder on the parent's back, are not quite as versatile, and babies tend to outgrow them before they outgrow the need to be carried (many parents report the upper limit of their tolerance is around 18 lbs. or so). There are also concerns about the stresses placed on a baby's spine in these carriers (see www.kangarookorner.com for details).  

Commonly seen brands of front-pack carriers include the Snuggli, the Baby Wrap, the Baby Bjorn, the Baby Trekker, the Ergo Baby Carrier, the Kelty Kangaroo Carrier, and (in a totally unconstructed version of a front carrier) the Baby Bundler (which can also be thought of as a wraparound sling). 

Hip-Carriers  

Hip-Carriers are usually for older babies and toddlers.  They help the parent carry the child on a hip without getting arm cramps and with a bit more security.  The straps help redistribute the child's weight to either the shoulder, hips, or both.  They can be used only with babies who can sit up well, but do continue to be useful as the toddler gets older (up to about 35 lbs.).  This type of carrier is generally harder to find, but brands can include the Cuddle Karrier or Sara's Ride.  Other brands include HipBaby, Hip Hammock, Packababy, Ergo Baby Carrier, and Sutemipack.  

Back-Pack Carriers  

Back-Pack Carriers are similar to front-pack carriers, but baby is carried on the back instead.  This requires a degree of head control, so it is not generally suitable for newborns or little babies.  They are also not easy to put on, but do tend to be able to carry babies as they grow into toddlers.   Some people find them hard on the back and some people do not.   Kmom does not have any experience with this type of carrier, nor information on specific brands, so this type of carrier is omitted from the rest of the discussion about baby carriers.  

[Special Note: The Baby Trekker can be used as both a front pack carrier and a back-pack carrier, and is supposed to be quite size-friendly.  It is available at www.babytrekker.com and is discussed below under "front-pack carrier."  The Ergo Baby Carrier can apparently be used as a hip carrier or a back-pack carrier; more information can be found at www.willowbean.com. ]

 

Types of Slings

As noted, there are a number of different types of slings available and it can be daunting to the new parent to figure out which one best suits their needs.  Kmom is not really a sling connoisseur; this is a description of the basic types and their differences as she understands them.  

Keep in mind that not every source describes types of slings in the same way, terminology usage differs, and there are a number of 'hybrid' slings that are combinations of more than one 'type' of sling.  But hopefully this will suffice as a general explanation for the novice.  For pictures illustrating the different types of slings, see www.kangarookorner.com.  

The Padded, Constructed Sling  

The Padded, Constructed Sling is the most commonly seen style in the U.S.  They are made from a 'cigar' shaped length of fabric, with padding along the edges (called "rails").  There are rings for securing the sling at one end, while the other end has an unpadded "tail", which then slides through the rings like a buckle.  

There is a generous shoulder pad for the shoulder, and the rings are worn in front of the shoulder at about the collarbone level (not on the shoulder like Kmom did at first--ow!).  The baby rides in the "hammock" or "pouch" that is formed in the main part of the sling. The whole thing is like a 'loop' or sash worn across the body, with a pouch in the middle of the front that enables the baby to ride in a variety of positions (upright, cradled sideways, on the hip, etc.).

Padded, constructed slings are adjustable, but many parents have found that the extensive padding makes them less adjustable than they would prefer.  Because of all the padding, these slings tend to be comfortable to wear and easier on the shoulders, but bulky and hot in warm weather.   

Some sling connoisseurs believe that a padded constructed sling is the best type of sling for carrying a newborn, especially for beginning 'slingers'.  Others connoisseurs disagree,  finding any type works well for any baby.  If you are new to slings and unsure about using one, it's probably best to start with a padded constructed sling and then you can adapt or buy another type as you develop your own preferences.  

Most types of padded slings do not allow the top 'rail' and the bottom 'rail' to be adjusted independently, and in some this may make them less secure as they can tend to "gap" on certain body types.  It definitely makes them harder to 'custom-adjust' to the various proportions of the plus-sized mother.  If you are fairly conventionally shaped, this is probably not a problem, but if you are less conventionally shaped (extra busty or very apple-shaped), this lack of independent adjustability is definitely a disadvantage.  These women might prefer the Unconstructed Sling (or a hybrid sling) instead.

Good padded constructed sling brands include the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder (available from any number of websites, including www.breastfeeding.com and www.babysling.com ), and the Kangaroo Korner slings (www.kangarookorner.com, which also carries Over The Shoulder Baby Holders as well).  Baby Becoming, www.babybecoming.com, also carries many constructed slings in a variety of plus sizes. 

The Unconstructed Sling  

The Unconstructed Sling is very similar to the constructed sling, but does not have the padding or shoulder pad.  It is a long piece of fabric, folded and stitched, with a ring-buckle on one end.  The 'tail' goes through the rings to make a buckle.  This makes it more secure than traditional knotted fabric slings, and the rings help it be adjustable, which traditional tube slings are not.  

The Unconstructed Sling has the advantages of the padded constructed sling (except for the padding), but it is much more easily adjusted because of that lack of padding.  This is its biggest advantage.  These type of slings can adjust the top and bottom 'rails' independently, making it easier to custom-fit the plus-sized mom or the mom with a different shape. 

Although the extensive padding of the constructed sling sounds very appealing, the greater adjustability of the unconstructed sling means that some sling connoisseurs prefer it.  Others prefer the comfort of lots of padding.  Each parent should consider what they need most---more adjustability or more padding?--and then buy accordingly.

Kangaroo Korner ( www.kangarookorner.com ) makes a good unconstructed sling, and The Maya Wrap (www.mayawrap.com, www.babysling.com) is an excellent hybrid of an unconstructed sling.  The TaylorMade Treasure Slings ( www.willowbean.com  and www.taylormadeslings.com ) are unconstructed slings also, available in a very wide variety of fabrics (from simple cotton to mesh to flannel to elegant silk).  

Some sling connoisseurs swear the Maya Wrap is the best all-around sling available, yet others swear by TaylorMade Slings.  This is apparently very much a personal opinion issue.  Kmom has seen a very supersized mom using a Maya Wrap very comfortably, and Kmom also owns a Maya Wrap as well.  However, the lack of padding on the shoulder does bother some people, including Kmom. The TaylorMade Slings have a special system that helps "cup" the shoulders and is reputed to be more comfortable. 

The Hybrid Sling 

The Hybrid Sling combines the best of the padded and unconstructed sling types.  www.kangarookorner.com specializes in these.  You can customize your sling to be made exactly the way you want it.  

You can order the sling to have a shoulder pad (and choose how much padding to add), whether or not to have padded rails along the side of the sling (and how much padding to add), and whether or not to have an open or closed tail (an open tail makes each railing adjustable separately for a more custom fit).  

In Kmom's opinion, a hybrid sling is one of the best choices for women who are experienced with slings and want some of the features and comfort of a padded sling combined with the greater versatility of an unconstructed sling.  

[Side note: The term "hybrid sling" has different meanings for different people.  Some people use the term "hybrid" to refer to a sling with rings that has various combinations of padding in various places. This is the usage that Kmom favors.  However, others refer to a hybrid sling as a ring sling that also has a seam in the "pouch" of the sling, like many baby pouches or tube slings.  This is another possible usage, since this is obviously a hybrid between a ring sling and a pouch.  However, in the context of THIS FAQ, "hybrid" refers to a ring sling with some shoulder padding, light rail padding, but an open tail.]

The Tube Sling or "Pouch"

The Tube Sling or "Pouch" is a shaped tube of fabric sewn together into a circle, making a pocket for the baby to ride in.  Where the baby sits in the "pocket" usually has a seam.  It looks like a regular sling, except that it is a pre-determined length of fabric and usually cannot be adjusted at all.  There are no rings, no tails, and thus no way to adjust its size.  You simply buy the size that is most convenient for you.  This means that it is not usually transferable to a partner.  However, Kangaroo Korner does make Pouch Slings that do feature several rows of snaps, thus enabling wearers to adjust the fit somewhat, either for different wearers or to adjust as baby grows.  

The advantage of a tube sling is that it is very lightweight and comfortable, less bulky to store or carry, and generally much less expensive since it takes less time to create.  There is no fussing with rings and adjusting things; you simply throw it on and insert baby.  

It looks like a broad sash without a baby in it, so it can be worn without embarrassment or overheating if baby wants down for a while.  It is supposed to be terrific particularly for older babies around the time they are getting more mobile, since they often want up and down frequently.  The disadvantage is its lack of adjustability, in figuring out exactly what size to order, and that it is not usually usable by someone else.

Brands include the Kangaroo Korner Pouch Sling ( www.kangarookorner.com ), the "Womb with a View" (see below), and New Native Baby Carrier ( www.newnativebaby.com or 1-800-646-1682).  Maya Wrap (www.mayawrap.com, www.babysling.com ) also carries a tube sling/pouch version of their product as well, although they call it the "Maya Pouch."  Instructions for making your own tube sling can be found at www.jenrose.com/sling/slingtxt.htm or www.ida.net/users/stace/sling.html.  

The Fabric Sling  

The Fabric Sling is just a simple length of fabric which is knotted at the ends and worn sling-style.  This is the traditional baby carrier seen in  most of the world.  In Mexico, for example, a long beautiful piece of fabric that looks like a shawl is called a Rebozo. These are amazingly useful for all kinds of purposes, and midwives there often use them for turning malpositioned babies in labor and postpartum massages, as well as for carrying babies.

The fabric sling is extremely versatile and can be used for many different types of carries, and the sling can be worn like a shawl between carries without it being cumbersome or hot.  However, because knots are used to secure the sling, it is less convenient to adjust quickly, and some people may feel less secure with the knots.  

Brands include the Rebozo Way Project ( www.rebozoway.org ) and Maya Wrap ( www.mayawrap.com), which is technically a hybrid between an unconstructed sling and a fabric sling.  There are probably many other sources for these products as well.  

The Wraparound Sling

The Wraparound Sling falls somewhere between a sling and a front-pack carrier.  It's basically one very long piece of fabric which the parent then wraps around him/herself diagonally several times.  Unlike the sling, it goes over BOTH shoulders, with baby sitting in the pouch formed in the front (or wherever you prefer).  Fans of the wraparound sling feel that it is easier on the back because the baby's weight is distributed over two shoulders instead of just one, but it still has all the versatility and advantages of the sling.

There are many different brands of wraparound slings.  These include the Baby Bundler, Hug-a-Bub, Didymos, EllaRoo, Kari-Me, and Moby Wrap. You can find out more about wraparound slings at www.cottoncradles.com, www.willowbean.com, www.kari-me.com, and www.peppermint.com

The Specialty Sling

There are other types of slings that are available, such as slings that over UVB radiation protection, or mesh slings that can be worn to take a baby swimming with you more easily.  

SolarVeil is one sling with UVB protection, and it has been worn by some big moms to go swimming.  It is an unpadded sling. One type is made by TaylorMade Slings, and is sold by www.willowbean.com or www.taylormadeslings.com. www.kangarookorner.com also sells these, but not in as large a size (only to a size L, whereas the Taylormade slings go up to a size XL).  

Other water-friendly slings include those made out of mesh, so that when swimming, the water goes right through the sling but baby still is securely attached to the parent (and the parent has hands free to help with other children).  These are also sold through www.willowbean.com, www.kangarookorner.com, and www.taylormadeslings.com

Finally, mini-slings are available so that your toddler can play "mama" to his/her dolls and stuffed animals.  Many companies carry these, including www.babybecoming.com, www.willowbean.com, and many more.  

Asian Baby Carriers

Another type of baby carrier is generally referred to as an "Asian Baby Carrier." These include:

http://www.kozycarrier.com 
http://www.babyback-tie.com 
http://www.packababy.com/ 
http://www.wilkinet.com 
http://www.thecarryingkind.com/lifter/lifter.htm 

One big mom reports: 

This style of baby carrier is wonderful for larger size people. I have a website up showing how to make one for yourself, with a photo of me wearing my daughter: http://webpages.charter.net/dshiel0742/FrankenKozy.htm.  I'd be happy to give...specific reviews of different slings.

Kmom has no experience with these types of baby carriers, but obviously they work very well for people of many cultures.  

 

Slings, Baby Carriers, and Size-Friendliness

There are many choices for baby carriers, as noted above.  However, not all baby carriers are equally size-friendly.  Some work well for mid-sized people, some do not work well at all for supersized people, some work well at all ranges of size. The following is a general discussion of which baby carriers are the most suitable for people of size and why. For another opinion of different types of carriers and their size-friendliness (also written by a plus-sized mother), see http://www.thebabywearer.com/articles/WhatToO/PlusSizes.htm

Front-Pack Carriers 

Front-Pack Carriers tend to be less size-friendly than slings, especially as size increases.  They can usually accommodate mid-size parents, probably up to a size 22/24.  However, chest size, waist size and height are all factors in fit.  If you are very busty or have a significant 'apple' shape (larger waist than hips), front-pack carriers tend not to fit well.  Smaller mid-sized and pear-shaped moms can usually use an over-the-counter version of this type of carrier.  Moms in larger sizes or different shapes would probably do better with a sling, but if they really want a front-pack carrier, they should probably do some more research to find out exact dimensions available in each brand.  

Baby Bjorn Carriers generally are able to be used by many larger parents and they may even custom-size one for you.  Kelty Kangaroo Carriers are reportedly very size-friendly, and supposedly go up to a size 59" waist.  Snugglis tend not to be very size-friendly, but again, could probably be used by mid-sized moms.  However, a number of moms have reported that although Snugglis tend to be cheaper and lighter weight, if you want a really good front-pack carrier it is worth buying a more expensive brand for better quality construction and padding.

Some women really love Sutemi Gear carriers; one mom says it fits her large-busted frame just fine.  Women with back issues often rave about Ergo Carriers; they tend to be very easy on the back once the baby is bigger.  They are expensive but many women swear by them. Both of these products have been reported to come with a waist-extender option.  

Baby Trekkers tend to get rave reviews; they are heavily padded to make them more comfortable, the straps in back are in an "X" to better distribute the pressure, and the waist strap fastens by Velcro for ease of use.  It can also be worn as a backpack with baby facing out.  However, call the company for further information on exact size specifications.  www.kangarookorner.com reports that Baby Trekkers are extremely size-friendly, but it's always better to double-check on this before purchasing if you are supersized.  

Slings

Many parents find that baby slings are far superior to front-pack carriers in terms of versatility and comfort, and these are especially suited to the needs of larger people. Front packs are generally less intimidating and easier to figure out how to use, but slings are generally more versatile, more size-forgiving, easier on the back, and useful much longer. Kmom encourages readers to use slings, but of course needs and opinions vary and you should use whatever fits your own needs best.

The key to using slings successfully is to get one appropriate for your size, adequate instruction in its use (illustrations are very helpful in learning how to use them!), and then experiment until you find positions that work best for you. There is more of a learning curve with slings, so be sure to allow some time for experimentation before the baby is born (hint: practice with a stuffed animal or doll in the sling beforehand!). 

Good instruction is vital to sling success; visual pictures help a LOT. One good source of visual and written instructions for using slings can be found in The Baby Book by Martha Sears and Dr. William Sears (*THE* BEST BABY BOOK!). If you are considering a sling, the Sears' Baby Book would be very helpful to you to have on hand at home, always available if you have a question.

Online, there are also some sling instructions available at www.babyholder.com or  www.mothersnature.com/babywear/howto.html on how to use and wear their slings, complete with illustrations. Other websites with photos of sling positions include www.nurture-parenting.com/sling.htm (but it has no plus-size slings) and www.kangarookorner.com.  Maya Wrap has reportedly put their instructional video on how to use a Maya Wrap sling online now.  It can be seen at www.mayawrap.com/video/videomw.shtml

There are several slings that come in larger sizes or can be made to size.  The Maya Wrap ( www.mayawrap.com) comes in a number of different sizes, and their largest size should fit a supersized woman with no problems.  It is an unconstructed sling with no padding; this gives it great adjustability that may help some larger women get a more custom fit.  However, some women feel that its lack of padding tends to make it dig into their shoulders and sides uncomfortably, and lament the lack of a shoulder pad.

The Over The Shoulder Baby Holder has a large size that fits most plus-sized women.  It is a constructed and padded sling, one that is often recommended to women new to slings, and for those with newborns.  It is a very comfortable sling, but can get hot during the summer, and may be too bulky for some people's preferences. It can be ordered from any number of places, including www.breastfeeding.com, www.babysling.com, www.kangarookorner.com, or www.babyholder.com.   

Other places that sell slings in larger sizes (or will custom-make slings) includes www.babybecoming.com and www.kangarookorner.com.   Baby Becoming's slings are constructed, padded slings and are available in sizes that fit even very supersized people.  Kangaroo Korner has slings available that will fit into the smaller supersizes and will custom- make the sling to whatever size is needed, and will add padding etc. as you desire.  This is an excellent option for getting a customized hybrid sling.  

Target reportedly now has begun carrying some slings and baby carriers that can be expanded to much larger sizes, up to a 4x.  These are made by Infantino and may represent a more economical option than other slings in larger sizes or a custom-made sling. 

One brand of sling that is NOT size-friendly is the NoJo Sling (the brand endorsed by Dr. Williams Sears in the Baby Book).  It only comes in one size and that size is not very big.  This will preclude its purchase by most plus-sized moms.  In addition, some people feel that this sling is not very well designed, so it's probably not much of a loss that it is not suitable for most people of size. 

You can also have a sling made to size for you if you wish.  The owners of www.GetAttached.com and www.nestmom.com are plus-sized themselves, and will custom-make slings if needed.  They can advise you on exactly what measurements are needed to do this, and whether or not a custom sling is truly needed. As noted, www.kangarookorner.com will custom-make a sling for you, including adding as much or as little padding as you desire to the shoulders and/or rails if you want a hybrid-type sling.   

You can also make your own sling, if you wish.  Elizabeth Lee ( www.elizabethlee.com ) has a sling pattern you can use and enlarge if needed.  Call customer service at (801) 454-3350 and see if they can advise you on alterations at all.  www.sleepingbaby.net/jan has instructions on making a simple sling, and Maya Wrap also has instructions for making a sling on their site, www.mayawrap.com/sewSling.shtml

Other options for larger women or women who have special fitting needs includes a wraparound sling, like the Baby Bundler (800-253-3502, also available from www.babybundler.com), or the wraparound slings offered at www.cottoncradles.com. This is an extremely long piece of fabric which wraps around you and your baby in a nearly endless variety of carries.  Baby's weight is distributed over both shoulders for optimum support and comfort.   Many people with real back problems swear by this carrier.  However, the learning curve on using this is fairly steep; be sure to get the instructional video that goes with it.   This may or may not fit supersized women after all the wrapping is done, but for smaller mid-sized moms, it should be long enough.

Hip Carriers

Kmom has little experience with how size-friendly hip carriers are.  Call the manufacturer to ask for specifics (and then email them to Kmom!).  You can contact Cuddle Karrier in Canada at 1-877-CUDDLEKARRIER.  Sara's Ride is another brand, but Kmom has no contact information for this company.  There is also the Ultra EZ Baby Carrier from One Step Ahead ( www.onestepahead.com ). 

One plus-sized mom wrote in to say that she and her supersized spouse have successfully used the HipBaby carrier from WalkingRockFarm (www.walkingrockfarm.com ).  She also lists other fairly new front/back/hip carriers that may be of interest, including those from www.packababy.com, www.ergobabycarrier.com, and www.sutemipack.com

Another plus-sized mom raves about the hip hammock from www.hiphammock.com.  She says she used it far more than she ever did her sling, and that it's really been a terrific product for her.  

 

Kmom's Opinions on Baby Carrier Choices

Kmom has not tried every single type of baby carrier on the market, but over the space of 4 kids, she has tried several.  These are her opinions, based on her experiences; remember that your mileage may vary.  

Kmom's first carrier was a Snuggli.  This was not very size-friendly at all.  While it did go around her waist, it was not comfortable or a good fit, and she was also too 'busty' for it to work very well.  Kmom does not recommend Snugglis.

A friend of Kmom then tried to convince her into using a sling.  Unfortunately, the experiment was a disaster because the sling she was given to try was sized for her friend (a size 5 woman).  The sling was tight, uncomfortable, and pulled heavily on the shoulders, so Kmom rejected slings as a possibility too.  She suffered through carrying her first child in arms or in strollers.  It was very hard on the back!

Eventually, Kmom was convinced into trying slings again, this time with a sling custom-made to her size from www.nestmom.com.  This is a good sling and Kmom used it with her second and third children.  However, we made it a bit too long and it didn't fit as well as could be hoped.  (This was Kmom's fault, not Nest Mom's!)  This sling now has ended up being primarily used by Kmom's husband, a very tall man.  Kmom highly recommends www.nestmom.com as the service and workmanship was excellent, but recommends careful attention to sizing whenever you have a sling custom-made for you.  We didn't pay enough attention when we ordered, and the sling ended up being more suitable for the dad.  

Since then, Kmom has tried two other types of slings. With her third baby, Kmom tried a Maya Wrap sling.  The fabric is absolutely gorgeous and the workmanship is good.  The Maya's main advantage is that it is more adjustable for a custom fit, and this is very helpful to Kmom, given that she is very 'well-endowed' and traditional padded slings tend to not fit very well.  However, she found it uncomfortable on the shoulder and prefers padding in this area.  The sheer volume of fabric was also sometimes a bit of a nuisance. 

A friend (also plus-sized) lent her the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder, and for a long time this was Kmom's favorite sling, although still not perfect.  Kmom likes the padding on the shoulder and finds it more comfortable to wear, but gets annoyed that the highly padded railings prevent it from being adjusted as well on her body type.  Still, it is a good basic sling.

At one point, Kmom also ordered a Baby Bundler, which is an extremely long piece of cloth that you put the baby in and then wrap yourself and baby in, criss-cross.  Although she has heard many rave reviews about this product, Kmom did not like it at all.  She found it difficult and very awkward to use, and after all the wrapping was done, found that the length was almost too short.  She also hurt her back putting it on!  Not good for a product that is supposed to be the most back-friendly one available.  

For her fourth baby, Kmom ordered a new hybrid sling from Kangaroo Korner.  It is made of beautiful batik fabric, has plenty of shoulder padding, but is very lightly padded in the rails, making it easier to adjust.  It also has an "open" tail, which allows Kmom to adjust the top and bottom rails separately, thus customizing the fit to her own needs. This has been an excellent sling, the best so far, and Kmom highly recommends the sling and the company.  (And no, Kmom gets no kickbacks for recommending them!)

Kmom also ordered a Kangaroo Korner fleece "pouch" or tube sling, as the owner reported that plus-size clients really like these.  Kmom was not too sure about a "pouch" sling but decided to give it a shot so she could review it online.  Surprisingly, this was also a comfortable and very usable choice.  The fleece was delightfully soft, warm and cozy; extremely nice during the winter months.  It was surprisingly easy to take off and put on, and Kmom often used it as an extra baby blanket in the car on cold days too. This particular version of a "pouch" comes with snaps, so the fit is adjustable as baby grows.  Kmom gives the fleece pouch a thumbs-up also, but her favorite sling still remains Kangaroo Korner's hybrid sling.  

Based on her experiences with all her various slings, Kmom obviously prefers a hybrid sling (one that is padded at the shoulder, lightly padded on the rails but still separately adjustable, with an open tail).  Although this type of hybrid sling can probably be purchased from a number of different sources, Kangaroo Korner remains Kmom's favorite company to deal with so far.  Kmom does still recommend both padded slings ( Over The Shoulder Baby Holder) and unpadded slings ( Maya Wrap), but personally prefers a cross between the two.  Your mileage may vary.   

For most women reading this FAQ and contemplating buying a baby carrier for the first time, Kmom would strongly recommend a sling over a front-pack  carrier.  A sling is more flexible for different uses, easier to transport and use (once you figure out positioning), and generally more size-friendly.  Although it takes a little getting used to, it really is the best carrier for babies.  

If you buy a sling, Kmom's top recommendation is either a hybrid sling from Kangaroo Korner, or the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder if you prefer to buy your slings ready-made.  These seem to be the most user-friendly slings for beginners, they come in larger sizes, and most people prefer a bit of extra padding, especially men.  If you are extremely well-endowed or hard-to-fit, you might want to consider the hybrid sling because its independent rails make it more adjustable to harder-to-fit customers.  If you are more "standard" in size and shape, you would probably do well with simply the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder. However, your mileage may vary, and there are certainly other quality slings out there.  Custom-made slings are also a very viable option.

If you are determined that you only want to consider a front-pack carrier, then the Baby Trekker is supposed to be very size-friendly, more versatile, and easier to use than other front carriers like Snugglis.  Baby Bjorns have also gotten many recommendations.  Kmom does not have personal experience with either of these products, but has heard enough recommendations from others that these are probably safe bets.  However, Kmom strongly recommends that parents also consider buying a sling as well as a front pack for greatest versatility.

If you are interested in a hip carrier, both the HipBaby from Walking Rock Farms and the Hip Hammock from www.hiphammock.com have received rave reviews from plus-sized customers.  

If you would like to share your opinion or experience with any of these baby carrier brands, please email kmom@plus-size-pregnancy.org, along with permission to use your opinions.  

 

BBW Sling Gallery: Photos of Big Moms Using Slings

 
Tube/Pouch Sling Padded Sling? Traditional Padded Sling, with tail stitched together  
       
       

 

Slings and Carriers Suitable for Plus-Sized People

Abracadabra - The Mom Shop

Has maternity and nursing clothing and accessories. Mostly sizes to 16-18 but a few to 22-24. 1-3X mostly in tops and pants, not dresses or careerwear. Lots of nursing bras. Also has bra extenders, baby slings, breast pumps, My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow (good for plus-sizes), support belts, some sewing patterns, plus books and videos on pregnancy topics.

Baby Becoming

Good customer service, friendly and inspirational owner--Charlotte Bradley. Lots of maternity clothing and some nursing clothing. Baby Becoming does carry products such as a large-size baby sling, belly support band, etc. Has slings to all sizes of large, including the bigger supersizes.

Baby Bjorn Carriers

Front-pack baby carrier reputed to be very comfortable. Care should be taken with very small babies in some models, but this will be fixed in future versions. Reportedly will custom-make a Baby Bjorn for you; they need your waist, shoulder, neck, and bust measurements in order to make you a custom-sized carrier.

Baby Bundler

This is a very long piece of cotton interlock fabric, about 6 yards by 30 inches.  You wrap the fabric around your body in various ways to create the carrier.  (Most often used as a front-pack carrier.)  Distributes the weight evenly over shoulders, hips, back, etc. so that back strain is reduced.  "Chiropractically-friendly design", in that it doesn't put more weight onto one side than the other, unlike slings.   Definitely complicated to learn the wrapping technique, but once people learn to use them, many of them swear by it.  {Kmom found it too complex to use, but knows some plus-sized women who swear by it.}

BabySling.com

Terrific company with excellent service.  Carries Maya Wraps, Over The Shoulder Baby Holder, and other slings as well.  Good selection of colors and sizes. 

Baby Trekker

Basically a heavily padded front-pack baby carrier, which can reportedly also be worn as a backpack with the baby facing out.  Receives rave reviews from parents.  Has heavily-padded shoulder straps that criss-cross in the back for less stressful support, and a waist strap that fastens with Velcro for ease of use.  

The Baby Wearer

Website with an overview of many different types of carriers available, photos and charts for comparison of different types, analyses from sling experts and the general public, and reviews of specific vendors from clients.  Very useful site!

Baby Wrap Products, Inc.

Unique wrap-around back carrier, but has no shoulder straps.  Can also be used as a no-shoulder-strap front carrier.   Apparently good for avoiding neck strain and shoulder strain, compared to most front or back carriers.  Complex to figure out; call for instructions if you have difficulty.  Unknown if this product is size-friendly or not.  

Breastfeeding.com

Wonderful internet site with a ton of helpful information about breastfeeding, including pictures and even videos of various breastfeeding positions, etc. Also sells baby slings and nursing pillows and related products. Has the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder sling and will custom-make if needed; for more info, email shopping@breastfeeding.com. Slings come with $10 returnable video on how to use slings. Has My Brest Friend nursing pillow, which comes in plus sizes as well.

Cotton Cradles

This company specializes in Wraparound Slings, which is a very long piece of fabric that parents wrap around themselves diagonally several times.  Baby is usually carried in the front, like a front-pack carrier.  The Wraparound slings combine the double-shoulder support and back-friendliness of a front-pack carrier with the versatility and size-friendliness of a traditional sling.  Baby Bundlers (see above) are one type of wraparound sling; there are many other brands such as Hug-a-Bub, Didymos, EllaRoo, and Moby Wrap, all of which are carried by this company.  To see comparisons of the various types and brands, go to www.cottoncradles.com/stylesdescription.htm

Cuddle Karrier

Hip style baby carrier best used for older children.  It is supposedly a fanny-pack that converts into a hip seat, with the waist belt converting into a padded shoulder strap.  Very compact, and it's double-duty design is very versatile.  From the owners: "The Cuddle Karrier is an ingenious baby carrier & child sling that is a 7-in-ONE KiNDER Mobility System.  Comfortable, secure, and easy to use.  One hand to put on, to adjust and remove...[Can be used for] a mini diaper bag, expandable waist pack, shoulder tote, travel high chair, shopping cart security restraint."  

Ecobaby

Has cotton underwire nursing bras up to 46H. Go to catalogue, then to breastfeeding corner, then to supplies. Also has huge selection of many 'natural' baby products, such as organic and natural fiber clothes, bedding and diapering products, wooden and stuffed toys, and some homeopathic remedies. Maternity and nursing clothes and slings, but not listed in plus sizes, except for maternity panties in S, M, L, 1x, 2x, and 3x. Quote from a customer: "Ginny (the owner) is well-versed in breastfeeding. She is always available with advice and suggestions for nursing bras and tops. She carries most sizes (including very large and special sizes) and will refer if she cannot provide...she does carry more and more for nursing and larger women and will do custom-runs if there is demand."

Elizabeth Lee Designs

Patterns to sew nursing clothing; some maternity. Most go up to a size 16, many to size 20, and some to sizes 22 and 24. Helpful on the phone. One pattern for Fancee Free Nursing Bra (to 48J); others are for smaller-sized nursing bras. Has patterns for other items as well, such as slings and nursing pillows like Boppy's and fitted cotton diapers too. Reportedly, the sizing runs generous, and they have multi-sized patterns available as well.

ERGO Baby Carrier

This carrier is a favorite of many baby carrier connoisseurs.  Pricey compared to some carriers but reportedly worth every penny.  Very back-friendly; an excellent choice for those with back problems or when baby starts to get too heavy for a sling.  Different waist/hip support for the parents so it carries baby more on parent's hips, and also has a seated position for the baby instead of hanging by the crotch like many other carriers.  Can be used as a front pack, back pack, or hip carrier; newborn through about 40 lbs.  

Can also purchase two, one used as front pack, one as back pack, to be used with twins simultaneously. Pictures of people doing this on website.  For larger people, the Waist Extension fits into either side of the buckle on the carrier and
enlarges the waist circumference by 8", and extending The ERGO Baby Carrier's waist circumference from 45" to 54".

GetAttached.com

Owned by a big mom (Tammy) who is an expert slinger with lots of advice.  Has slings in large and custom sizes.  Lots of interesting articles and info on attachment parenting as well.

Growing Life

Run by a professional lactation consultant and RN who also has plus-sized salespeople too. Carries some plus-sized maternity clothes to 3x (tops, dresses, pants, etc.). Lots of nursing wear to 3x and is currently manufacturing their own line which will go to 4x! Nursing bras in the store to 42J; can order a nursing bra to size 50K. Also has nursing pillows, slings, breastpumps, etc., will do professional bra fittings, and has nursing classes, parenting classes, support groups, and information on parenting related issues on site.

Heart to Heart

Not much info, just a padded constructed sling made in Canada.  No information on whether it is size-friendly or not; call the company for size specifications.  

Hip Hammock

Another brand of hip carrier, highly praised by at least one plus-sized mom (who found she used this far more than the traditional slings).  She also notes, "The woman who makes them is very willing to make them larger if needed."

Jenrose.com

Instructions on how to make your own slings.

LittleKoala.com

Carries a number of baby items, including co-sleepers and baby slings.  Also carries a particular brand of baby sling called "The Native Carrier" (no padding, no rings, very flexible for use).  They accept custom order up to a 5x which fits up to a 60" chest.  

KangarooKorner.com

Sells a wide variety of slings and can custom-make them as well.  Owner is very friendly and will often give personalized advice.  They have a page that shows and discusses sling positioning, www.kangarookorner.com/page17.html.  Also discusses and shows how to carry two babies at once with a sling, so twin moms should visit this site!  Note: Kmom's favorite sling comes from this site!

Kari-Me Baby Carriers

Baby carriers sold in the UK but will ship worldwide as needed.  Baby "wrap" much like the "Baby Bundler" from the US.  They will offer special size Kari Me to anyone who needs it.  

Kelty Kangaroo Carrier

A front-pack carrier that goes up to a 59" waist.  Often found in camping store/catalogs.  Has a few pockets to carry things as well as the baby.  Apparently roomy even for supersized women.  

Mary Shackleford

Homemade baby slings, custom-made for your needs. This may be a great resource for the truly super-sized. Available in a variety of colors and fabrics. She works out of her home. Quote from a customer: "My sling is wonderful. I own 3 of them (all from different makers) and I must say I like the sling Mary made best."

Maya Wrap

One of Kmom's slings!  The Maya Wrap is reputed to be one of the most versatile, most easily adjusted and easiest-to-use slings.  Not padded like other slings, but this makes it much easier to adjust to your special sizing concerns (larger bust, larger waist, broader shoulders, etc.), and it comes in several generous sizes so it is quite size-friendly.   Maya Wraps are a hybrid sling that is a cross between a constructed sling and a fabric sling---it looks just like a constructed sling in that it has a tail and rings, but it has no padding so that it is more adjustable.  Maya Wrap also makes a tube sling (predetermined length of fabric sewn together, very light and easy to use but not adjustable).  This is called the "Maya Pouch" and is great for older kids learning to walk.  Available in 5 different sizes.  The instructional video is now online at www.mayawrap.com/video/videomw.shtml. It's a little dull but the demonstrations help a lot.  The website also now has instructions for sewing your own sling: www.mayawrap.com/sewSling.shtml. A very employee-friendly company---the slings are made by a mission in Guatemala at a home for teen-aged girls.  "The girls are not overworked and the work helps support the mission and teaches them skills they can use instead of turning to prostitution."  Distributor is a small, home-based business.  

Mei Tai Carriers

One mom wrote: "I found slings very difficult to use...then I discovered the blessed Mei Tai.  You can wear them from birth through the toddler years, on front, back or hip."

Mother Baby Care

Nursing bras, cups A-H.  Slings (Over The Shoulder Baby Holders).  Breastfeeding classes.  Breastpump rentals/sales.  Newborn care/Mother care/Breastfeeding support.  Run by two nurses.  

Mother's Nature

This company has a number of maternity- and nursing-related products, including a ton of information about slings and how to use them. One section, www.mothersnature.com/babywear/howto.html contains instructions on how to use and wear their slings, complete with illustrations. Carries Baby Bjorn front-pack carriers, and Over The Shoulder Baby Holder slings. The "Long" size in OTSBH serves 140-275 lbs., or you can special order a made-to-size sling, which takes about a week. This site also has pumps (including the new Avent Isis), pump accessories and parts, diaper options, and Birth Balls.

New Native Baby Carrier

Tube sling made of thick soft woven cotton.  Reportedly one of the better tube slings on the market.  There is a discount for low-income moms, and they have reportedly donated free slings in the past to very low income moms.  Reputed to be an employee-friendly company.  

Nursing Mother Supplies

Internet company that specializes in all kinds of supplies a nursing mother might need, like breastfeeding pumps and slings. Also carries the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder sling.

Nurtured Cub Slings

Makes a "lightly padded ring sling" out of cotton fabric in many colours and patterns with lightweight metal rings. Will custom size a sling for you.  "Handcrafted and comfortable Baby Ring Slings with beautiful cotton fabric.  Durable and lightweight metal rings, 'light' padding with a pocket are some of the features. Custom Orders are welcome!"

Nurture Parenting Products Sling

Hybrid sling, constructed and padded like the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder but with an open tail like the Maya Wrap.  Supposedly less bulky than the OTSBH brand, and a bit more adjustable because of the open tail.  A mom makes these in a home business, and she can custom-make them.  If you want the padding of a constructed sling yet need the extra adjustability of an open tail, this may be the sling for you.

OMOM Trading and Swapping Board

OMOM is a mailing list of support for new moms who are 'overweight'. They have created a trading website where people can sell, trade, borrow, or swap old maternity/nursing clothing and equipment. Great spot to go for the budget-conscious. This URL may eventually change; if you try it and it doesn't work, further information about this may be able to be found at www.fertilityplus.org.

Over The Shoulder Baby Holder

Excellent padded, constructed sling which also comes in a larger size; many other companies also carry it. This company also makes little mini-slings called Kidslings.  Kids love to carry their dolls and stuffed animals in it, and they make a great gift for siblings when a new baby arrives.

Packababy

Baby carrier that can be used as a front pack, a back pack, a hip carrier, etc.  One reader reports that they are inexpensive, easy wash/dry, ties on with no snaps or buckles, and works great for big babies or people with bad backs.  Size-friendliness unknown; call for information. 

Parenting Concepts

Breastfeeding-friendly website, with many breastfeeding products.  Most famous for its slings, Sling-EZee, which comes in an XL size.  Also carries a nice-looking nursing pillow, the Bosom Baby Plush Line Nursing Pillow.  It is V-shaped, comes in extra soft material (like velour), and has a zippered, removable pillowcase so it can be washed (an unusual feature in nursing pillows).

Parent's Pal

{Owner Susan Wittenstein reports that she carries the "Over The Shoulder Baby Holder", which fits many alternative sizes, including tall folk. She says the large size fits people who weigh 160-275 lbs., or who are large-chested. She says it's also good for those over 5'11" tall. "Well-padded, machine-washable, 100% cotton, can carry kids newborn to 35 lbs. in it. The position that is best varies with the child's age, development, etc. There are many positions to choose from, including cradle, upright, facing out, hip carry and tummy-to-tummy." She also has an instructional video on sling-wearing available for purchase.

Posh Papoose

New website featuring slings of original design. "I am a small operation and happy to offer custom-sized slings for people of all shapes & sizes.....[I make] Baby Slings & Accessories in Fabulous Fabrics."

Rebozo Way Project

The Rebozo is the traditional 'sling' of Mexico.  It is a woven shawl about 100 inches long, 30 inches wide, made of cotton.  The baby is put into the sling and the sling is knotted around the mother.  The Rebozo is so beautiful that you can wear it without a baby too.  There is a video demonstrating the Rebozo as a sling, also available from the Rebozo Way Project.  Midwives should investigate Rebozos as aids to turning malpositioned babies, etc. (more information is available on this from www.midwiferytoday.com or email lupetrueba at gtrueba@prodigy.net.mx).   

Rock-a-Bye Baby Slings

Carries Over The Shoulder Baby Holder slings in many attractive patterns and colors.  

The Rosado Sling

Slings made in all different sizes, including some very large sizes.  www.rosadosling.com/sizes.htm has a list of different sizes available.  According to the chart, these slings fit up to 350 lbs., and they will custom make slings larger than that as well.  

Self Expressions

Medela breast pumps, maternity and nursing bras to 46H, Over the Shoulder Baby Holder slings (large sizes in stock now), My Brest Friend nursing pillow, and many other breastfeeding-related products.  Also carries maternity and new mother panties by Medela in Queen Size (1x, 2x, 3x), which fits hips 41" to 49".  Owner also notes that Medela has now designed a new breastshield for their pumps.  It's for women who have larger nipples and find the standard flanges uncomfortable.  It's called the "Personal Fit" and Self Expressions carries it. You can view it at www.selfexpressions.com/perbreas2eac.html

Sew Your Own Custom Sling

Directions for easily converting your own favorite bra into a nursing bra in just a few easy steps.  Includes photos and directions.  Also has directions for sewing slings of various types, a nursing pillow custom-fitted to you, and your own nursing t-shirts.

SnugaBaby.com

Makes custom baby slings to fit any size parent.  Available in a wide variety of beautiful fabrics.

Solarveil Slings

Slings made with material that offers protection against UVB rays.  It can be worn in the water.  An unpadded sling.

Sparrow's Nest

Proprietor Marti Grahl makes slings and carries Bravado bras. Ask her about custom-making a sling to your size; she made one of Kmom's slings. Great owner--read her VBAC stories in the BBW Birth Stories FAQs!

Sutemi Gear

Info on the Sutemi Pack, a front carrier similar to the Ergo baby carrier and purportedly easier on the back, especially as your baby gets bigger.  Sutemi packs are for babies that are at least 16 lbs. and have good head control.  

Target's Infantino SlingRider and CozyRider

Target reportedly has started carrying the Infantino SlingRider (a sling) and the CozyRider (a carrier), which are supposed to fit people up to a 4x once the straps are adjusted.  They are also cheaper than most large slings and custom-made products for people of size; as of February 2003, the SlingRider was $29 and the CozyRider was $15.  Target also carries the EuroRider and the CuddlyRider, which may also fit larger people but weren't tested and confirmed yet.   

TaylorMade Slings

Extremely wide variety of fabrics available, including batiks and many African prints.  Also carries water slings in mesh and in Solarveil fabric.  Carries up to a size XL, which covers to 300 lbs. plus.  Recommended by a customer fan.  Reportedly has many plus-sizes in stock so you don't have to custom order as much.  Also has packages to give discounts if you purchase more than one sling, so if you and your partner are different sizes and need 2 different slings, this might be an economical way to order both.  Also gives discounts to twin moms if they order two of the same sling.  

Walking Rock Farm

Reportedly carries HipBaby, a hip carrier that many customers have found to be size-friendly.  Also carries other brands and types of carriers and slings.  Has received rave reviews from some plus-sized customers, who find it much more comfortable than a Baby Bjorn etc. type carrier.

With Child

Maternity clothes, bathing suits, and slings, etc. Mostly now to L or XL, a few 2X, but it is currently working on a plus-size line for the future.

Womb With a View/Cozy Cradle

Tube sling made out of high quality yet lightweight muslin.  Since it is made in Hawaii, it is very light and comfy in warm weather.  Has teething beads sewn into it as well!  Company formed by Hygeia Halfmoon, Ph.D., who is an author of several parenting/health books.  However, one distributor haughtily informed a plus-size mom that their product is not large enough and "there is not a market" for that size.  Call to inquire just in case.  

Yummy Mummy

Their sling is 'one-size-fits-all' and may fit the smaller sizes of plus women, but the website has photos of sling positions and how to use them, at www.nurture-parenting.com/sling.htm.

 

Making Your Own Sling 

To save money on slings, you can ask companies if they have a "used" sling policy.  Some will sell gently used slings at cheaper prices.  Ebay also often has used slings for sale as well as other plus-sized maternity merchandise.  

To sew your own sling, check out the following websites:

You can get the rings for a traditional sling from Elizabeth Lee for about $5.   http://elizabethlee.com/accys/ringssale.htm 

Happy Slinging!!    --Kmom

 


Copyright 1996-2006 Kmom@Vireday.com. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced or sold, either by itself or as part of a larger work, without the express written permission of the author; this restriction covers all publication media, electrical, chemical, mechanical or other such as may arise over time.


[ Back to Kmom Area ]